Sometimes life just doesn’t make any sense, but we show up anyways.
This past Friday I planned to drive a girl I mentor to a camp 16 hours away. She took the initiative last fall to apply to serve others for free and got accepted. Summer staff and work crew at a young life camp is a beautiful way to walk out the gospel. You can read more about it here.
This past week my girl, Shimmy, began to flip flop back and forth between going and not going. We texted, talked on the phone and I prayed. I know how powerful and transformative this experience can be, and more than anything I wanted her to leap and go.
I see myself a lot in this girl though we could not be more polar opposites. She is tall, trim, fashionable and full of sass. She does not love sports or the outdoors, though she will tolerate it with me. She loves glitter, math and music I don’t know.
But in the most unlikely of friendships five years ago, we clicked. We sat next to each other on a bus from Tulsa to Michigan for camp and haven’t looked back since. What started as a young life leader to young life kid friendship has blossomed into a friendship. Shimmy pushes me and challenges me in ways no one else does or can. Shimmy calls me out for only wearing white v-necks, athletic shorts and chacos. When I teeter, she reminds me who I am in Christ with little to no subtly. She tests my patience at times, but I love her.
So that is part of what made last Friday so frustrating. As she went back and forth on whether to go or not, Thursday night she settled on a very enthusiastic yes!
I packed my bags and woke up Friday morning ready to drive to Minnesota. When I looked at my phone, she had texted me early that morning saying she was not going. I texted and called, nothing.
As I lay in my bed, I fumed. I seethed over the lack of thought, the irresponsibility, the inconvenience. And then as I prayed, a very angry frustrated prayer, I just felt the Lord rush over me.
“It’s not about you.”
Well yes, I know that God. But I have a right to be upset.
“It is not about you.”
Ok. Well I’m just going to lay in bed until she gets her act together and then make her wait on me.
“It. Is. Not. About. You.”
(Rolls over emphatically to go back to sleep)
“Even though this doesn’t make sense, you have to finish packing.”
But, we aren’t going? Why would I pack everything up?
“Text her back and take a step. Be obedient. You can’t see what I’m doing. Get up and get ready.”
(Thinking to myself) but, she’s not going. Why would I get ready?
“It’s not about you. Be obedient.”
After this, I got up. I started my day as if preparing for a long whirlwind road trip not knowing if I would actually go or not. I had zero confirmation.
Now my sweet little Honda Civic named Ron Burgundy can no longer be trusted cross country so I rented a car. My roommate, Becca, drove me to pick up the car which meant, I had to explain to her why I was renting a car without knowing if I would actually go to Minnesota or not.
As I tried to articulate that I was just going to take a step and then see what happened I could feel a lot of fire burning in deep in the pit of my stomach. I didn’t want to say any of this out loud, at all.
I tried. My description of why I would rent a car left Becca with more questions. But Shimmy texted me back. Still not going. I just wanted to really speak my mind every time I texted her back.
But I heard God whispering, “Trust me. Go one step at a time and trust me.”
So I refrained. Because apparently this is not about me.
After venturing to two rental car locations, I rented a car. When asked where I was going I confidently answered in faith, “I’m taking a girl I mentor to serve at camp!” That was the first time I said it out loud without a livid heat burning through my face.
I went home and packed my car. I got breakfast, and I ate it. I texted confidants who knew the situation and asked for prayer.
And then, she said she would be ready in ten minutes. Unsure if she meant ready to hang out or ready to drive to Minnesota, I drove to pick her up.
Upon arriving, she came out of her apartment with just a purse.
“Trust what I am doing Elizabeth. This is not about you. This is not about you.”
Again, I wondered what the hell was happening. I asked if she wanted to grab a bagel so we did. We talked. It began to feel like she was going. We went to party city to grab one last thing for camp.
We got back in the car. I literally had no idea where to go next. When I asked her she said, “You know. Home. I am going camp.”
Ok. I drove to her apartment now doing the math of how late we would get in and gauging it against how much coffee I would need. It all seemed doable. When we got to her apartment there weren’t any spots. Not wanting to illegally park a rental, she went in alone confirming she was bringing her bags.
I wanted to go in, but again “this is not about you. Trust me.”
She was going to camp. I had been obedient when it seemed crazy. We were doing this. She went inside. I started updating and texting everyone I had beseeched throughout the last six hours. In the middle of a text my phone rings, it is Shimmy.
She’s not going.
I sat silent. Unable to process what happened. I just told everyone we were leaving. I just pumped myself up for this drive. I just calculated the number of stops we would need. I did math for this!
“This is not about you. Trust me.”
I lobbied hard to even get her to come outside and talk to me. I pleaded. I graveled. I tried tough love and coaxing. Nothing.
“Trust me. This is not about you.”
I sat in an apartment complex parking lot and I cried. Crying is not my go to emotion. Three things usually make me cry: the underdog winning, injustice, and most of all when I am angry. If we start a heated conversation and I tear up that means I am furious.
I angry cried for an hour in that parking lot as I filled in others on what transpired. I prayed. I yelled. I scared a gardener who asked if I was ok.
“This is not about you. Trust me.”
The statement shot through me like a pinball. It’s meaning left me befuddled.
And then in a way only God can He reminded me of how small my faith is at times. You see in that moment, I thought this was about summer staff and YoungLife camp. I thought this was about getting Shimmy to summer staff. But this was about how I still at times have an outcome based faith.
If I get up and move as if Shimmy is going to castaway, God will change her heart.
If I rent a car, and talk with her, and guide her to go, God will make a way.
If I do (blank), then God does (blank). But that’s not how God works.
God sees so much more than the three weeks of summer camp I fixated on. He sees things I’ve yet to see. He knows more than me. He knows my pride was hurt that I could not persuade her to go. He knows that I wanted a road trip for me. He reminded me that this was not about me. Now, in hindsight, I know that getting up and choosing obedience was what God asked of me. The obedience did not produce what I wanted, but it did not diminish that God is at work.
I am disappointed. I am hurt. I am sad. But I know my God. I know that me showing up plants a different seed for a different time than camp. Me choosing obedience and trust when I wanted nothing to do with the situation at hand opens new depths in my relationship with Christ.
When the outcome doesn’t match what we feel our faith should have produced, we need to question why we are trusting God. For the majority of today, I trusted God to get something, not because He is God. I needed that check for my heart. I needed that reminder. I want to work towards trusting God because He is God. Whatever the outcome.
Since this experience, Shimmy and I have had some really good talks about life. I know without a doubt that God is working in both of us in a mighty way. I love Shimmy no matter what. There is nothing she can do to make me love her more and nothing she can do to make me love her less. Shimmy is an incredible woman of God who has such an amazing heart for others. I have seen God use her in bold ways and I know without a doubt, He will continue to use her in mighty ways.
*this blog was posted with permission from Shimmy to show the beauty and the mess that lies in friendships.